With last year's Super Bowl grabbing an audience of 111 million, NBC has ordered a sequel! It'll premier on February 5 and probably do just as well, financially. And if being able to see two teams — one of which you might actually care about — battle it out on a football-field-sized field on your TV wasn't enough for you, this year the NFL and NBC have announced that the "big game" is going to be streamed online and via select handset devices, too! There have never before been so many ways to watch the event. (The previous record for ways to watch the game is "one." One way. Just TV. Sports fans like stats, right?)
But what does this all mean for you, the concerned Super Bowl viewer? What is this mysterious "streaming" and how can you do it? And since you have an 80" OLED 3D TV in your well-appointed, comfortable living room / man cave, you wouldn't be remiss from also asking why you would need to stream the game at all! Below we've got answers to all these questions, and more!
Who Can Watch: Anyone with a TV, really.
What You Get: The national broadcast, including all the ads (which we all clamor to see, even if we fast forward through all other commercials on our DVR at other times of the year).
Why TV?: Because you enjoy watching sports — specifically football — and you like being able to sit comfortably in your favorite chair. Maybe you even invited over some friends / hot wings, too, and you'd like to have the extra space to spread out. In short: If you had to choose one way to watch the Super Bowl, this is the perfect way to do it.
Who Can Watch: Anyone with an Internet connected computer (with certain hardware recommendations) and a web browser with the Silverlight plugin (available for both PC and Mac). You might want to think of installing it now so you and 111 million other people aren't trying to download it at 6:29 pm on February 5. For a full list of requirements, click here.
What You Get: A live HD stream of the game via NBC Sports and NFL.com, plus additional coverage including extra camera angles, on-demand replays, DVR-like functions, live statistics (see? we knew sports people liked statistics! In fact, four out of five people prefer twice as many statistics as half the people do the other 90% of the time!), and more.
Why Stream Online?: You're not only a sports fan, but an information-junkie. You like to know more than what is presented to you. You like to dig deep into stats, replays, and all the tangential trappings that come along with being a super fan. OR, you don't have a television (because you like telling people that you don't have one, to sound cool) but you're not about to let that stop you from seeing the biggest sporting event in the world* — or the Super Bowl, for that matter!
*The World Cup
By itself, this is the second-best option to a TV, but together with a TV, it's by far the best way to go. It's like a Super Friends team-up, except your TV doesn't morph into something lame, like an "ice slide."
Streaming on Verizon Smartphones / Tablets
Who Can Watch: Only Verizon customers using a smartphone or tablet that can run the NFL Mobile app, but since the app is available for both Android and iOS, many people can take advantage of it.
What You Get: Super Bowl-specific details are hard to find, but we're assuming you'll get a live stream of the game, as well as access to the stats that are available through use of the app for other games.
Why Stream on Your Smart Device?: We can see this stream coming in handy in exactly two situations: 1) You unfortunately have to cover a shift at work that day, or 2) right before the game you suddenly realize that you invited 100 people over and forgot to order food, so you need to run to ConHugeMart in the hopes that they have enough Cheez-ee chips and salsa to satisfy an irate mob of your friends — and you would miss kick-off, if not for your phone and the handy app. But those are the only two situations we can think of that would have you choosing a 3.5" screen over your 15" laptop or 87" "wall of televisons."
One additional thing to keep in mind, though, is Verizon's recent track-record of network stability ... or lack thereof. We'll be quite interested to see how their cell network holds up to 13 billion* people streaming a game to their phones at once, even as the company has gone to great lengths to boost its network strength for the event. Also remember that unless you're on WiFi, you'll be eating up your bandwidth like some kind of bandwidth-eating Pac-Man (Pac-Mandwidth?).
*Loose estimate, based on nothing
As you can now see, there will be no excuse for you to miss the Super Bowl this year... unless you just don't like sports. (Hulu always has the best commercials on demand the next day anyway!) GO [INSERT TEAM NAME]!